Dear Friends and Allies,
The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board is seeking public input about the proposed permanent Protection from Wildfire Smoke standard. They are accepting written comments until August 12, so now is the time to weigh-in about this important worker health and safety issue!
Background: In late 2017, partners from day labor centers and farmworker advocacy organizations contacted us with major concerns about wildfire smoke. They informed us that workers throughout California, mostly immigrants of color including many indigenous workers who speak Mam and Zapotec, were not being given proper protective equipment, training, or schedule adjustments to help reduce their exposure.
Worksafe — in partnership with California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, the California Labor Federation, and the State Construction and Building Trades Council — successfully petitioned the Standards Board to take up emergency rulemaking on this issue. They passed a temporary standard in 2019, but it is set to expire in January.
Now it’s time to urge the Standards Board to pass a strong permanent standard – and we need your help! Use this template letter to contact the Standards Board and tell them why you support the adoption of a permanent wildfire smoke standard that:
- Reduces the threshold for this standard from 151 Air Quality Index (AQI) for the fine and harmful particulate matter found in wildfire smoke (PM2.5) to 101 to protect sensitive populations, such as workers who already have occupational asthma or other occupational illnesses;
- Reduces the threshold for respiratory protection with fit test and medical evaluation from 501 AQI for PM2.5 to 301, to protect workers before the levels rise to beyond hazardous;
- Ensures workers have accessible information about their rights, training, strong preventive controls, and at the very least personal protective equipment for voluntary usage.
Again, comments are due on Wednesday, August 12. You may want to use our template letter to structure your comments to the Standards Board.
Remember, wildfire smoke contains high levels PM2.5 which can reduce lung function, worsen heart conditions, and exacerbate respiratory disorders. Workers cannot go without protection in the next fire seasons and need your support to ensure that these temporary protections are made permanent.
Thanks so much for your support. Questions about the wildfire smoke hazards or the progress of the standard? Contact us!